SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for the latest episode of "The Flash," "The Fury of Firestorm," which has not yet aired on the west coast as of publication.
From the birth of a new Firestorm to the face-to-face meeting of Barry Allen and Earth-2's Harrison Wells, the fourth episode of "The Flash" season two featured a number of big, big surprises -- not the least of which included an appearance by King Shark and the revelation of Iris West's long-lost brother. And while the episode, "The Fury of Firestorm," left the identity of this brother a mystery, Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg was rather candid in a press event at CW headquarters last week about this character, confirming, "Yes, that's Wally [West]" and "It is Joe's son."
Taking questions from a group of reporters including CBR News, Kreisberg and Caitlin Snow actress Danielle Panabaker also discussed the thought process behind altering Iris and Wally's comic book relation, the introduction of the "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" Firestorm and, of course, that King Shark appearance.
So, Iris's brother. It's Wally West, right?
Andrew Kreisberg: Yes, that's Wally. We sort of had this idea -- just like with any of the shows we do -- we have these ideas in the previous season. We always knew we were leading up to this. We always hated on TV shows where it's Year Two and somebody is like, "Cousin John is coming," and it's like, "Oh, good old cousin John no one ever mentioned before." It was weird. So the notion that they don't know Wally is where it came from and that led to the idea that Francine was still alive, and that whole storyline. Now Iris is in the position that Barry was in last year. She's keeping a secret to protect somebody and for all of her anger at Barry and Joe from last year, she's going to find that keeping this secret is not going to be so easy. It's going to be weighing on her before she finally decides to take some action.
And it's Joe's son?
Kreisberg: It is Joe's son.
In this episode, we saw Caitlin becoming a lot more proactive. Was that mainly because of the Firestorm connection or are we seeing her stepping up into the leader role now that Harrison Wells is gone?
Danielle Panabaker: I think absolutely. The old dynamic from season one was that this was Wells' S.T.A.R. Labs and he created it and he was the boss, so we all followed along. This year we're feeling a little different. We're trying to figure it out and suss it out and whoever has the most expertise or passion or hutzpah about something, we tend to follow.
Speaking of Firestorm, this episode also introduced the "Legends of Tomorrow" version of the character. There have been a few versions of the character in comics but what made you decide on this Jefferson Jackson interpretation [played by Franz Drameh]?
Kreisberg: I think we decided to use it as an opportunity to introduce a different kind of Firestorm. What worked so well in the comic books was the idea that they were so different, Stein and Ronnie. In the comic books, Ronnie was like a dumb jock. And obviously, Robbie [Amell] and the character we created, our Ronnie, was an engineer and was more mature and had a girlfriend and was more of an adult. So, the idea of the second Firestorm being someone who was just in his early 20s and somebody who was radically different from this Firestorm -- you guys got to see the camaraderie and when you get to see "Legends" you'll get to see a lot more of the, "What the hell are you talking about? Why are we doing this?" while they're merged. So, there's a lot more room for comedy with the Firestorm character than we previously had before. And it's a freshness and an excitement.
Honestly, as always, we are so proud to have another African-American superhero with superpowers and for a whole generation of kids who are growing up and this show is their entry into the superhero world, for them, Firestorm will always be African-American.
Before he departed, Professor Stein gave Cisco some advice regarding his powers. Are we going to see Cisco taking that advice to heart and start to embrace [his powers] a little more?
Kreisberg: Yeah. I don't want to give too much away, but yeah. I think for Cisco, one of the things for him is that this evil man said, "I gave you this gift," and he's seen what happens to the other metahumans. Good or bad intentions, they all go nuts and they all get locked up. Cisco is really scared, and he doesn't see what the benefit is yet. He doesn't see that it really is a gift. He doesn't see that it's a blessing and a power that can be used to help people. Right now, all he sees is the nightmare and that's what's really scary for him. Not only is he scared about what it means to be a metahuman and all that, he also feels like he drew the short straw. Barry got superspeed and Ronnie gets to fly and he gets these blinding headache nightmare visions of people being killed. It's not at first blush the most heroic way to step into the role.
This episode ended with two pretty big things, notably that Barry and Earth-2 Harrison Wells have come face-to-face. Does the next episode pick up from that confrontation?
Kreisberg: The next episode opens in a slightly surprising way. This is going to come as a giant shock to everyone in this room but I'm a fan of "Doctor Who." [Laughs] I think one of the things that Steven Moffat does so brilliantly is that when he has cliffhangers and two-parters, they don't just pick up exactly where they left off. You come in with an expectation and you're not quite where you thought it would be. So, obviously this scene will play out but how it unfolds in [episode 5] is really exciting and you're going to get a lot of answers to questions you probably have.
The other, literally big thing that occurred was King Shark. Can you talk a little about that?
Kreisberg: We actually put him in the comic book adaptation because we said, "No one is ever going to let us do this and we're never going to be able to do this" since we weren't going to be using the Squad anymore. We were talking about it and it was really Todd Helbing who was like, "Let's do it!" It was a very expensive 30 seconds of the show but our visual effects them are the best and they love challenges like this.
It was just fun for us. Obviously we can't afford to do an entire King Shark episode so the idea was that he was one of Zoom's minions and just the latest in the line. Which does mean that there is a King Shark on Earth-1.
Well, you did do an entire Gorilla Grodd episode.
Kreisberg: Yeah. And we're doing another one in which Caitlin plays the Fay Wray to Grodd's Kong. [Laughs]
Panabaker: In season one you got to see just a tiny bit of her relationship with Grodd and you'll get to see a little bit more of that and understand their connection from before. He's got some unfinished business with her, I'd say.
We're about a month away from the "Arrow"/"Flash" crossover. Last year's crossover was about Oliver teaching Barry how to be a good hero, but Barry is a hero now. So, what will we see when they crossover again?
Kreisberg: It's hard to talk about it in those terms only because what Barry is facing when he goes into the crossover is part and parcel with what everyone is going through in episodes five, six and seven. I will say that conceptually speaking one of the ways that we thought of these episodes in sort of a macro sense was that the "Flash" episode this year plays more like an episode of "Arrow" and the "Arrow" episode plays more like an episode of "Flash." We thought that was kind of part of the fun of these episodes. And this year, both "Arrow" and "Flash" are different. Thea's on the team now.
Panabaker: And it's exponentially bigger this year, too, because we factored in all those characters from "Legends," too.
Kreisberg: It's killing us. [Laughs] We have more heroes, more people with powers, more mouths to feed and bigger villains. It's really exciting.
"The Flash" airs 8 p.m. Tuesdays on The CW.